Over 23,000 private sector employees terminated in 2018


A total of 23,168 private sector workers were terminated last year after the slowdown in global growth, trade tensions between the US and China, and the deferment of several mega projects had forced many companies to downsize.

In a written reply to the Dewan Negara last week, Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran (picture) said the highest retrenchment was recorded in the manufacturing sector involving 11,254 employees, representing 48.58% of the total figure, followed by the information and communications sector with 1,997 employees or 8.62%.

Of the total number of retrenched workers, 17,236 cases or 74.4% involved regular retrenchment exercise, while 5,932 cases or 25.6% were under the voluntary separation scheme (VSS), he said.

Kulasegaran was responding to a question from Senator Datuk Hanafi Mamat, who asked on the number of private sector employees terminated in 2018 and 2019.

As for this year, a total of 10,262 workers were dismissed between January and March.

The minister said of the total number, 9,030 workers were involved in regular layoffs, while 1,232 others had opted for the VSS.

The administration and support service sector reported the highest retrenchment cases involving 3,962 workers or 38.61%, followed by the manufacturing sector with 3,307 (32.23%), he added.

In January, local recruitment company Agensi Pekerjaan Randstad Sdn Bhd (Randstad Malaysia) highlighted that bulk hiring activities have slowed down in the construction and property sectors since May last year as the government embarked on reviewing multi-billion-dollar projects, such as the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail, East Coast Rail Link and the Mass Rapid Transit Line 2.

In its 2019 Market Outlook Report, the agency maintained a conservative view on hiring activities in the construction and property sectors, but further retrenchments are expected in the first half of 2019.

It also noted that the exercise is expected to affect junior-level workers with less than two years of experience.

The report also underlined the job cuts in the public sector last year.

The change of government saw the removal of several agencies with overlapping roles such as the Land Public Transport Commission, National Professors Council, Special Affairs Department, Residents’ Representatives Committees and the Malaysian External Intelligence Organisation.

Based on data provided by the Social Security Organisation, over 50% of workers who lost their jobs were from the Klang Valley, with 6,470 people or 27.5% from Selangor, and 5,376 people or 22.9% from Kuala Lumpur.

This is followed by Johor (2,792 people or 11.9%) and Penang (1,412 people or 6%).